Our Favorite Pasta Salad Recipes
Of all the make-ahead recipes available to home cooks in the dead heat of summer, none are as easy and manageable as pasta salad. A pre-made pasta salad can help elevate any last-minute barbecue or cookout where you'll be dining al fresco—especially if you plan to picnic away from your home and need something that can travel well. A chilled pasta salad holds up remarkably well in the fridge, too, as you can make a big batch of noodles and mix in fresh veggies without dressing the salad first. The beauty of a pasta salad is that you can edit and tweak the formula any way you wish: choose your favorite noodle, a blend of vegetables, a sprinkle of protein if need be, and sauce or dressing when you're ready to serve.
The best pasta salads are classic combinations of savory flavor notes that you know and love: like antipasto salad, which features robust mozzarella, peppers, olives, and sliced salami; a cold soba noodle salad, loaded with edamame and a spattering of feta cheese; and an orzo and zucchini combination dressed in a light pesto sauce. Other recipes focus on textural paradise by blending raw, cruciferous vegetables with soft, tender noodles: a blend of rotini noodles, broccoli florets, and crushed peanuts, for example; roasted eggplant sliced atop a bed of Israeli couscous and soft mushrooms; or blanched string beans, peppery arugula, and orecchiette in a creamy vinaigrette dressing.
Each of these recipes calls for noodles that are rested, cooled, and then tossed into a blend of additions and dressings; but you can prepare all of your ingredients in advance and simply mix them right before you serve. Enjoy a delicious cookout with one of the many pasta salad recipes we have in the following slides.
One-Pan Orecchiette with Chickpeas and Olives
Chickpeas and olives add texture and flavor to this vegetarian one-pan wonder, accentuated with fresh garlic, rosemary, and a robust kick of pepper flakes.
Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula
Combine Gemelli pasta with cannellini beans, goat cheese, spicy arugula, and a touch of Dijon mustard to make a satisfying salad with plenty of flavors. To make this dish up to one day ahead, prepare the pasta mixture and dressing, store them separately, and toss together when ready to serve.
Pasta Salad with Peas and Summer Beans
Antipasti Pasta Salad
This salad features the flavors of a traditional Italian antipasti platter, mixed with spiral-shaped pasta. Salami, mozzarella cheese, green olives, and jarred red peppers are called for, but feel free to add or substitute other ingredients, including tuna, provolone, anchovies, artichoke hearts, capers, or marinated mushrooms.
Shrimp Pasta Salad with Cucumber and Dill
Pasta Salad with Roasted Broccoli
Cold Soba Salad with Feta and Cucumber
Emeril's Macaroni Salad
This elbow macaroni salad from chef Emeril Lagasse gets richness from crisp-cooked prosciutto and crumbled goat cheese. Olives, capers, tomatoes, fresh parsley, and a mustard vinaigrette punch up the flavor. The assembled salad can be stored and refrigerated for up to one day.
Pasta Salad with Broccoli and Peanuts
Greek-Style Pasta with Shrimp
Sauteed shrimp, garlic, fresh mint, and Kalamata olives, along with a yogurt dressing lend this pasta salad a Greek accent. The salad calls for Gemelli pasta as the base, but you can substitute any short pasta. Feel free to replace the shrimp with 12 ounces of thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast.
Warm Tomato Pasta Salad
Pasta Salad with Feta and Snow Peas
Curly fusilli pasta is tossed with crunchy pieces of yellow pepper, blanched snow peas, scallions, crumbled feta cheese, and fresh cilantro in this easy salad. It can be made up to one day ahead; keep covered in the refrigerator, and add the scallions and cilantro just before serving.
Eggplant Salad with Israeli Couscous and Basil
Orzo and Zucchini Salad
Macaroni and Potato Salad
Why choose between potato salad and pasta salad when you can have them both? This salad combines elbow macaroni with boiled potatoes and tops them with a rich mayonnaise and sour cream dressing. Blanched green beans and crispy bacon add extra flavor and texture. This salad can be enjoyed immediately while warm, or refrigerated until ready to serve.
String Bean, Arugula, and Pasta Salad
This summery salad combines medium-size curved pasta, such as conchiglie or orecchiette, with both green and yellow wax beans, baby arugula, toasted pine nuts, shaved Parmesan, and a vinaigrette dressing. If you can't find yellow wax beans, simply double the amount of green beans.
This vibrant pasta salad offers a market basket of ingredients usually found in the classic Italian minestrone soup. Use a short variety of pasta, such as Gemelli, rotini, or penne, and top it with cannellini beans and an array of lightly cooked vegetables, as well as olive oil and vinegar. This salad can be eaten chilled or at room temperature.
Creamy Pasta Salad with Celery
This simple macaroni salad gets a jolt of color and flavor from peas, celery, scallions, and diced Black Forest ham. The creamy dressing is complemented by a dash of nutmeg. This salad can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three hours.
Herbed Pasta Salad
Orecchiette pasta is infused with flavor from garlic, fresh basil, and parsley. This simple side salad can be bumped up to main-course status with the addition of your favorite protein, such as cooked poultry, meat, or beans.